Remarks as prepared for delivery
It’s a real pleasure to be here in Croatia. I want to thank Minister Božinović for hosting me. We met in Washington DC in January and I am glad we had the chance to meet again this time in Croatia. Thank you for the invitation to visit your beautiful country. It is clear that the relationship between Croatia and the United States is strong and growing stronger.
When he was in the United States, Minister Božinović said he wanted the relationship between law enforcement agencies in Croatia and the United States to be as strong as our excellent defense relationship. That is an excellent goal, and one that moved closer to reality during my visit here.
Today I also met with several of my counterparts—Prosecutors General and Police Directors—from across the region: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia.
Law enforcement agencies in our respective nations have formed close relationships and partnerships for decades. And I am proud to say that those partnerships continue today and are only getting stronger. We can build on these relationships more and more, particularly focusing on matters of interest to all: terrorism, drug trafficking, human trafficking, corruption and violent crime. These interests do not stop at borders. Smart criminal use borders to hide behind. We cannot allow that to happen.
The United States is investing in these partnerships and deploying American experts and other personnel where they can help support the efforts of our partners. With funding from the U.S. State Department, the Department of Justice has assigned prosecutors to several of our embassies in the region: four in Albania, one in Bosnia and Herzegovina, one in Croatia, one in Kosovo, one in Macedonia, and two in Serbia.
State Department funding has also made it possible for us to assign highly-experienced police advisors. We have placed four in Albania, two in Bosnia and Herzegovina, two in Serbia, four in Kosovo and one each in Montenegro and Macedonia.
These partnerships are bearing fruit. Since 2015, the countries represented here have obtained more than 180 guilty dispositions in foreign terrorist fighter cases.
In 2017 alone, following our joint regional trainings in Croatia, a total of 14 investigations have been conducted against organized crime groups in the region, resulting in 118 arrests and the seizure of 13 firearms, nine vehicles, and two metric tons of narcotics. Just in March, Croatian authorities seized 100 kilograms of cocaine in a great bilateral investigation by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration and Croatia.
A joint operation of Macedonian and Serbian Narcotics Units—with training from American officials and supported by the Drug Enforcement Agency—took down the largest synthetic drug lab in Southeast Europe and confiscated more than 125 kilograms of synthetic drugs, which is worth about 2.5 million Euros.
Kosovo Police investigators trained by American personnel worked with Albania, Macedonia, and Serbia in an operation that resulted in approximately 100 arrests and the seizure of 258 kilograms of narcotics.
The Department of Justice worked closely through mutual legal assistance with prosecutors in Kosovo and Serbia to arrest 13 defendants in one of our largest cyber fraud prosecutions.
And there are many other examples we could talk about. These are significant victories that benefit us all.
But there is a lot more for us to do. We continue to face serious threats from terrorism, drug traffickers, human traffickers, and organized criminals.
But we will face these threats together. The meetings that we have held over the past several days have positioned us to improve our cooperation. We have strengthened our partnerships and we are prepared to achieve even greater results in the future.